In sports, the buzz word for 2020 is something called “opt-out,” which has become an excuse for administrators and bowl games more concerned over money than health.
With Arkansas getting to a bowl game that is actually deserved, despite getting just three wins this year, that is a pretty good picture of how bizarre this season has become.
Schools have used the covid-19 situation as an excuse to not play games or, now, not play in bowl games simply because since it’s not a top-tier game they really don’t make enough money to go play the game.
They can say otherwise but if they do they are lying.
If there was a serious health risk to college athletes, nobody would have played. The Big Ten and Pac 12 tried to go that route until they saw players in the conferences playing games weren’t dying or being hospitalized.
At least 20 teams have opted out of postseason play, including prominent programs such as Stanford, Florida State, Penn State, USC and UCLA. LSU also chose to not play a bowl game, but that is trying to curry favor with the NCAA on an investigation that is ongoing more than anything else.
The simple reason they aren’t playing in a bowl game is they don’t want to spend the money at a time when revenues are coming up seriously short. Bowl games don’t pay a school enough money to make a profit in good times, much less these days.
Bowl games cost most schools more money than they generate because the schools spend money like sailors on a battleship coming into port after a year-long deployment.
Don’t Google the payouts and think that’s paid to the schools because it goes to the conferences, who give a little bit to the schools to cover expenses, then it’s divided among the member schools.
Money is also the real reason some bowl games are taking advantage of the convenient excuse of covid-19 to cancel their games for this year.
That’s the exact reason the Independence Bowl in Shreveport used to keep a 9-2 Army team out of a bowl game.
Army had a primary agreement to play in the Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl, but the game was canceled on Sunday after the bowl said in a statement that “the opting out of possible teams created a lack of teams available to play in bowl games.”
At least they were halfway truthful. They should have just said they couldn’t get a big enough name team to come play against Army in Shreveport.
The bowls are using the excuse not big enough name teams are available and they aren’t available because they don’t want to spend the money … and then saying they are doing it for health safety reasons despite the fact it’s the easiest game to create a team bubble and nobody has enough people in the stands to worry about this year.
As usual, follow the money (or lack of) and you usually get the answer in college athletics.